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Indian Ocean Conference and its Significance

Context: Recently, the Indian Ocean Conference was held in Perth, Australia.

About Indian Ocean Conference

  • Conference Focus: The Indian Ocean Conference (IOC) annually emphasises the Indian Ocean region’s geopolitical, economic, and strategic significance.
  • Diverse Participation: It gathers policymakers, academics, business executives, and civil society members to deliberate on security, commerce, and collaboration matters in the Indian Ocean area.
  • Inaugural Session: The inaugural IOC took place in Singapore in 2016.
  • Organisational Collaboration: The India Foundation, in conjunction with regional partners, organises the conference
More In News
Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe highlighted the growing militarization of the Indian Ocean and the intensifying great power rivalry as significant concerns for smaller regional countries.

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Significance of the Indian Ocean

  • Trade Hub: The Indian Ocean is a critical maritime trade route, linking Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, and handling about 75% of global maritime trade.
  • Energy Production: This region accounts for 40% of the world’s offshore oil production and is crucial for LNG supplies, with India being a major importer.
  • Vital Sea Lanes: The Indian Ocean’s three key SLOCs are essential for global trade and energy security, facilitating the movement of goods and energy resources.
  • Fishing Industry: With nearly 15% of the global fish catch coming from this region, the Indian Ocean’s fishing industry is vital for food supply and economic stability in related countries.
  • Oil Transit Route: Half of the world’s daily oil consumption is transported through the Indian Ocean, highlighting its importance in global energy distribution.
  • Coastal and Economic Security: India’s extensive coastline and dependence on the fishing industry make regional security crucial for its economic development.
  • Strategic Dynamics: The region is central to global strategic shifts, including the rise of China and India, US interventions, Indo-Pak tensions, terrorism, and piracy.
  • Choke Points: Strategic choke points like the Straits of Hormuz, Malacca, and Bab el Mandeb are crucial for international trade and energy flow, drawing naval presence from various countries including the USA and France.
  • China’s Influence: China’s focus on the Indian Ocean, through initiatives like the Silk Road project and cooperation with coastal nations, underscores the region’s growing importance.
  • Global Power Policies: The US ‘Pivot to Asia’ and China’s ‘OBOR & String of Pearls’ strategies enhance the Indian Ocean’s strategic significance, with Chinese naval activities in Hambantota signalling regional protection concerns

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